Countless artists over the generations have covered the great Elvis Presley. But how many people can say that Elvis covered them?
Come to Komasket Music Festival on July 30 and 31 and you will see one such legend herself. Buffy Saint-Marie will be hitting the stage on Saturday night, entertaining audiences with the many classics she has added to her songbook over her five-decade long career.
“We were so blown away by both the performance Buffy delivered at the Komasket Music Festival in 2008, and the crowd’s response, that when we realized we had the opportunity to present her again at this year’s 10th annual event it just felt completely right,” said Thomas Thomas, creative director and co-founder of Komasket.
Saint-Marie was born on a Cree reserve in Qu’Appelle Valley, Sask., but she was adopted and raised in Maine and Massachusetts. She received a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts and now resides in Hawaii. She also holds degrees in both Oriental philosophy and teaching, influences which form the backbone of her music, visual art and social activism.
Her eclectic sound, falling into categories as diverse as rock, folk, country and pop, has captivated her audience not only though its catchy beats and Saint-Marie’s soulful voice, but through the socially conscious messages within the lyrics. The anti-war anthem Universal Soldier holds up a mirror to the complacent public, while No No Keshagesh (keshagesh is a Cree word meaning greedy puppy) from her most recent release Running For The Drum, addresses the issue of corporate greed.
She is not without an emotional side, as evident in her songs Until It’s Time for You to Go, covered by Presley, Cher and Barbra Streisand, and Up Where We Belong, the Academy-Award-winning track from the feature film An Officer and a Gentleman.
Her activism did get her into trouble during the Lyndon Johnson years. She was blacklisted from the airwaves along with other outspoken artists like Eartha Kitt and Taj Mahal. But it was during this time that her fame and notoriety grew within “Indian Country” and abroad. She continued to appear at countless grassroots concerts and activist benefits.
She made 17 albums, three of her own television specials, scored movies and spent five years on Sesame Street with her son Dakota Starblanket Wolfchild. She also helped found the ‘Music of Aboriginal Canada’ category and the Juno Awards.
At age 69 she doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all. When she doesn’t have a full touring schedule she is at her home in Hawaii writing and recording.
“She has taken her show to a whole new level with a backing band of First Nations musicians from Winnipeg,” said Thomas. “We saw a show recently in London and the power and soulfulness of the band really melted the cold London atmosphere.
“Buffy is one of those artists who totally epitomizes everything (the festival) has always strived to represent: gutsy, from the heart, and always on the edge. It’s really a great honour to feature her on Saturday on the Mountain Stage.”
The Komasket Music Festival is taking place from Friday to Sunday at Komasket Park on Westside Road. Directions and ticket information available at www.komasketmusicfestival.com.